CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) – Midway through his first term as West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey is proud of the work his office has done.
“We’ve been working very hard to achieve as much as possible,” Morrisey said Tuesday about his first two years in office. “The voters granted me with the four-year term, and we’ve been trying to get as much done to help West Virginia reach her potential.”But he says there still is plenty of work to do, whether he does it as attorney general or as governor.
While he said he’s hesitant to grade his work or the work of his staff, he said the office is “doing some good things, and we hope to accomplish a lot more in the next few years.”
“We have some very talented lawyers helping out the state,” Morrisey said. “The Office of Attorney General has some of the best lawyers in the state … it’s one of the best law firms in the state. We were able to keep some of the wonderful people in place from the prior administration, and we have added some wonderful attorneys and staff.
“We have a terrific team that is gaining the confidence of other states. We’ve modernized the office. We’ve added new talent. We’ve modified how settlement money is processed. We’ve implemented our outside counsel plan. West Virginia is now a leader in the fight against the EPA. We’re doing good things.”
Still, Morrissey said there is plenty on the agenda.
“It’s been a busy two-year stretch,” he said. “There definitely isn’t a lack of things to focus on in the office.
“There are a couple critical initiatives for our state to help West Virginia grow. Within our role, we want to ensure we defeat the EPA on some of their initiatives to help save West Virginia jobs. We’re hopeful we can prevail.
“We want to send the message that there is a future for coal in our state. We want to help West Virginia reach her potential with a business and legal climate. It’s a top priority of our office. We have a vigorous consumer protection division, but we’re responsible.”
Morrisey said he thinks people see how the office is different after 20 years under former AG Darrell McGraw, a Democrat who often was criticized for his outside counsel policy of often appointing campaign contributors, his use of settlement money and his use of trinkets for political gain.
“I think people have noticed a difference,” Morrisey, a Republican, said. “We’ve focused on how we can impact change. We have built on some of the positive things from the past and changed things that weren’t being done so well.
“We’ve worked hard to be accessible to people yet still be the state’s law firm. We’ve had 58 town halls across the state since taking office.”
Morrisey has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2016. He said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do next year, but he recently filed a campaign finance report showing more than $546,000 on hand for a statewide campaign.
“I love being the attorney general,” he said Tuesday. “There is so much you can accomplish every day for the people of our state, and there is a lot more we can do to ensure the office is working to help West Virginia grow.
“At this stage, we are analyzing our options. But I plan to spend every day trying to be the best attorney general this state has ever had. At an appropriate time, we’ll determine what we’ll do in 2016.”
In a press release announcing his campaign war chest, Morrisey touted his two years in office.
“We are grateful to our supporters for helping us gain strength in advance of the 2016 election,” he said. “Our record of fighting for West Virginia jobs, leading national litigation efforts against President Obama’s overreach, reforming the Office of Attorney General, protecting consumers, and improving the state’s business climate is resonating with citizens across the Mountain State.
“I am honored to serve as the state’s attorney general and will use the next few months to evaluate how best to continue to help the Mountain State reach her potential. West Virginia needs to become an economic powerhouse — it can do so with the right leadership.”